8 August 2010. It was a day of splendid sunshine in Krizevci, Republic of Croatia. A casual visitor couldn’t but notice the intense joy on the faces of everyone living in Mariapolis Faro and the warm atmosphere of joy among the focolarini who have gathered from the surrounding areas of Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia Herzogovina, Moldavia, Rumania, and Bulgaria. They’ve come to meet Maria Voce, President of the Focolare Movement.
In love with God
They told her of life in the midst of such diverse peoples who have been divided by history and by painful barriers of war and misunderstanding. They told her about joys and difficulties, hopes and decisions: “Either we live like people who are in love with God or what we are doing just doesn’t make any sense.” Maria Voce responded by thanking them for their faithfulness, because “even though you are of many tongues, faiths, and places of origin, you all belong to the one People of God.” Giancarlo, Co-president of the Movement, echoed her sentiments, recognizing how the men and women focolarini were so strongly “heart and service” of the communities.
In the afternoon there was a visit for guests to the Sun Ray Early Childhood School. The school was begun in 1995, with 4 sections for 110 children between the ages of 2 and 6 years old. Today it is still the flower not only of Mariapolis Faro, but of the entire city. Immediately following the war, the focolarini asked the Krizevci municipality if the local population was in need of anything in particular. The answer was an Early Childhood School. With help from abroad, much creativity and concrete projects, an adventure in education began which is now a model for Croatia and other nations as well.
Integrating the Montessori method with the pedagogical principles of the charism of Chiara Lubich – especially the culture of giving, educating for difficulties, suffering, peace, welcoming those who are different and the art of loving – the school strives to develop the children’s personalities along with their cognitive and communication skills. After 15 years of activity, thanks also to the collaboration with Education and Unity, the school has been able to make a precious scientific contribution, explaining the patterns of a pedagogical method based on communion, even at an academic level in the Zagabria School of Pedagogy (Croatia) and Skopje (Macedonia).
Ideal and Family
In the evening there was the meeting with families living in Mariapolis Faro, who offer their contribution also by running the Economy of Communion businesses which are linked to the place. They are wonderful people, with united families that have undergone the horror of war while not losing their faith in the love of God who conquers all. There was much sharing of simple and concreted experiences of life: “We’re fortunate, our children have been breathing in this atmosphere of mutual love ever since they were small.” “We learn here to live honestly as responsible citizens.” “Everyday, after work, returning to the Mariapolis, we realize how important this Ideal is for us.” “We’ve come here to help other families and we’ve received a hundredfold.”
Emmaus affirmed: “The Mariapolis is comprised of houses, trees and valleys, but above all of persons who give witness to mutual love and leave this mark even on the stones, on the harmonious and welcoming dwellings – on everything. If it weren’t for you this Mariapolis wouldn’t be here. Your mutual love is what justifies its name, “Faro” (Beacon) by enkindling its Light.
See Photo Gallery for other images of visit to Mariapolis Faro